Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014) Review {by R.T. Ewell}

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When I first saw the trailer for Matthew Vaughn and Mark Millar’s latest project, Kingsman: The Secret Service, I was not overly impressed. It looked very cliché and felt very much like Mark Millar’s Wanted. Vaughn is a director I have started to pay more attention to and for good reason. Kick-Ass was his first collaboration with Millar, turning the comic into an unexpected box office success. While Vaughn also revitalized the X-men franchise with First Class.

Kingsman is the story of a top secret organization of highly skilled agents, out to save the world from baddies. The story is nothing new except with a few twists here and there while adding a modern, violence-filled world. We follow a new recruit named Eggsy who is among a group of people that have been selected to earn a spot in said top secret organization of highly skilled agents. So basically the movie is split with a main story happening including Samuel “Nick Fury” Jackson as the villain and  a sort of boot camp for secret agents.

I think the movie does work overall but wish it was more focused on the main plot and less on the boot camp aspect. We follow the character of Eggsy who is really kind of fascinating. Taron Egerton does a terrific job in this tricky role of good guy/jerk but he perfects the hard task of making himself likable. What is really impressive is how superbly the character is written and acted to show as much growth as it does.

Colin Firth plays Harry Hart who just so happens to be Eggsy’s mentor. Firth is good and portrays a bad ass pretty well with him always sporting a nice suit. The fight scenes are well done with Firth while sprinkling in the kind of violence we are used to seeing from Vaughn’s Kick-Ass. It’s over the top with chopped off body parts and other gruesome moments. Yet this movie and Kick-Ass both were hits with mainstream audiences. Even for me, someone that loves horror movies, the over the top violence can be a bit much. No spoilers intended, but the church scene gets uncomfortable to watch.

Vaughn’s use of music is something else that should be mentioned. Some very odd choices but in the final product they make so much sense. It truly makes the movie turn from a traditional spy movie to something completely different.

Something that bothered me throughout the film was the fact that there are many characters that we never get attached to besides Eggsy and Harry Hart. Maybe that is by design but it also presents another problem. Alot of the actors looked alike and it was hard to tell one from the other. Of course I’m the only one I’ve noticed that seemed to have that problem so maybe it was just me.

I really wish Samuel L. Jackson had a bigger part because his character was fun to watch. I mean, he is in the movie quite a bit but I wanted to see more of him. This isn’t much of a spoiler but to see him play a villain was a lot of fun. It really felt like he was having fun with it too and tried not to be Samuel L. Jackson-like as much as he possibly could. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between his characters because they all seem to be Sam Jackson, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But it’s nice to see him change things up a bit.

Something else I have to mention is Jackson’s sidekick or whatever you want to call her. Sofia Boutella does an excellent job portraying Gazelle who herself is such an awesome character. Gazelle is a pretty unique personality as she does not have normal legs but spring-like legs that are sharp as razor blades. As you can imagine this poses a problem for anyone who tries to step in her way.

It’s very hard not to like this movie. Even with its uneven story line and over the top violence that might turn the normal movie goer off, it’s just impossible to not enjoy the film. This movie is something different from anything out there, really. Its language, its violence, and its cookie cutter story should all be reasons why the movie was a box office flop and hated among movie goers. Except the exact opposite happened. It was a financial success and is very well liked. Which is good, it means that we will keep getting movies like this, movies that don’t stay on the normal track.

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